I've never met Lawrence Winnier. But I know he owns a home in the Pontchartrain Park neighborhood of New Orleans, where he's lived with is wife of more than 50 years. He's an amateur photographer and faithful Catholic. He volunteers at Tulane University's hospital. His wife liked decorating with the color pink. He shops at Wal-Mart and reads the newspaper. And like many of us Louisianians he had a box of Mardi Gras beads that he couldn't bring himself to throw away. He has great faith in people.
I learned all those things this weekend when I and a dozen other complete strangers threw away the contents of his home - from bed sheets to sheet rock. Hurricane Katrina brought 6-8 feet of water into the middle-class neighborhood, and he hasn't been able to afford the $3,000 to pay someone to gut it. His children have both passed away. So like many people in New Orleans he counted on the compassion of church groups to do it.
That shared faith in each other and God seems to be one of the few things working in New Orleans.